Much of Thursday's second stage of the "race of the two seas" from the
Pisa area town Volterra to the Marina di Carrara seaside resort over 185
kilometers, was quite similar to the race opener, the finish was totally
Just like yesterday, two lesser-known riders starred in the "breakaway
of the day" movie: the Polish road race champion Marcin Sapa of Lampre-NGC
and Ermanno Capelli of the Fuji-Servetto team, a squad well-determined to
prove that they deserved their place in the contest, made the gap early
and stayed clear together until the going got vertical again at Ponti di
Vara with some 20 kilometers to go; then the Italian, a long time
"lanterne rouge" (better, black number) holder at the past Giro d'Italia,
but with better climbing legs than Sapa, dropped his breakaway companion.
Capelli is not new to such moves, he put in a solid attack also at Gent-Wevelgem
the past year.
Also Janez Brajkovic made the headlines, but in a truly different way:
the Astana's young talent from Slovenia was caught up in a pileup (that
involved, amongst others, also Tom Boonen) on a flat section and stayed on
the tarmac for some time. He didn't suffer major injuries but still chose
to pull out of the race. More riders fell on the dusty, slippery roads in
this white marble production area. The tricky "marble powder" also claimed
two excellent victims: GC leader Julien El Fares and - guess who - Tom
Boonen again! Both guys didn't have any serious problems in regaining the
field, even if the Belgian hit his left leg, and this had an unpleasantly
crucial impact on his stage-winning chances.
Thankfully the downhill piece that came next was far less dangerous,
but Capelli's breakaway was doomed: the Italian got chased down on the
Bedizzano ascent with about ten miles to go, and after staying away for
144 kms. The sprinter's teams apparently learned the lesson from
Wednesday's failure and did a better job this time. Even if one sprinter
going under the name of Mark Cavendish was given a tough, tough time on
the climb; his teammates tried to help him limit the damage, but the Brit
quickly lost close to a minute to the front of the mega-stretched peloton.
Game over for him.
The final descent into Carrara town saw a courageous downhill move by
Stefano Garzelli, though all the veteran from Varese could do was show
some excellent form - which is no small thing anyway. A front group of
about 50 riders was still together half a dozen km. from the line. McEwen,
Cooke, Davis, Petacchi and Bennati were there too, but neither Boonen
(dropped again) nor Cavendish were. Thor Hushovd was nowhere to be seen.
The LPR leadout machine (with Lorenzo Bernucci as the last wagon) came
into action in the final mile; AleJet enjoyed it a lot, started the sprint
in first place and saw how Daniele Bennati was just unable to pass him.
Alessandro Petacchi was too fast for everyone today, and took a
well-needed revenge on his chief rival, with Euskaltel's Koldo Fernandez
as distant third. France's Dominique Rollin of Cérvelo Test Team and the
Italian Luca Paolini made the stage top five complete. AleJet notched up
his third win of the season and could celebrate it on the podium with his
little Alessandro Junior. And in front of many of his hardcore fans too,
the stage finish being located only a few miles east of his hometown.
The time bonuses the stage victor was awarded put Petacchi in second
place overall, but Julien El Fares still retains a 15-second
advantage on him. Same time gap, but different overall placing (third) for
First after-win comments from AleJet in front of the Italian TV
cameras: "I think I had a good race today. I was very fast on the climbs,
and my teammates did a great job. To get a win just five kilometers from
home is the best thing one could get. Especially after all those
misfortunes and what I've gone through in the last three years after I
injured my knee. I knew that it was a bad injury, and I couldn't find back
my top form, but I've worked a lot, and yes, I'm still here".
On the losing side of the matter, Daniele Bennati told something that
many, the Italian TV cameras included, had missed: "I fell before the (Ponti
di Vara) ascent, lost contact with the peloton and spent both final climbs
in a chase, alongside Sabatini and Agnoli. I wasted too many energies and
even if I regained the bunch in the last five kilometers, I just couldn't
do more than I did in the sprint. I'm not used to put up excuses, but I
can say that in such circumstances I'm not going to complain about this
Bennati and the other fastmen unable to be a factor in the first two
days will not have to wait too long for their chance for redemption:
tomorrow's 166-kilometer flat stage from Fucecchio to Santa Croce
sull’Arno in the Florence area is more than likely to end up in a royal
battle of sprinters.
Stage 2 (Volterra to Marina di Carrara, 185 km): Top 5 Places
1. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita - LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini) - 04h32'42"
2. Daniele Bennati (Ita - Liquigas) - s.t.
3. Koldo Fernández (Spa - Euskaltel-Euskadi) - s.t.
4. Dominique Rollin (Can - Cervélo TestTeam) - s.t.
5. Luca Paolini (Ita - Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) - s.t.
Complete stage results pdf.
44th Tirreno-Adriatico - GC after Stage 2: Top 9 Places
1. Julien El Fares (Fra - Cofidis) - s.t.
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita - LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini) - at 15"
3. Daniele Bennati (Ita - Liquigas) - s.t.
4. Enrico Rossi (Ita - Ceramica Flaminia-Bossini Docce) - at 24"
5. Leonardo Duque (Col - Cofidis) - at 25"
6. Assan Bazayev (Kaz - Astana) - s.t.
7. Matti Breschel (Den - Saxo Bank) - s.t.
8. Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita - LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini) - s.t.
9. Filippo Pozzato (Ita - Katusha) - s.t.
Complete G.C. results pdf.
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